Two Ukrainian pilots are currently in the United States undergoing an assessment to determine how long it could take to train them to fly attack aircraft, including F-16 fighter jets, according to two congressional officials and a senior U.S. official.
The Ukrainians’ skills are being evaluated on simulators at a U.S. military base in Tucson, Arizona, the officials said, and they may be joined by more of their fellow pilots soon.
U.S. authorities have approved bringing up to 10 more Ukrainian pilots to the U.S. for further assessment as early as this month, the officials said.
The arrival of the first two pilots marks the first time Ukrainian pilots have traveled to the U.S. to have their skills evaluated by American military trainers. Officials said the effort has twin goals: to improve the pilots’ skills and evaluate how long a proper training program could take.
“The program is about assessing their abilities as pilots so we can better advise them on how to use capabilities they have and we have given them,” an administration official said.
Two administration officials stressed that it isn’t a training program and said that the Ukrainians will not be flying any aircraft during their time in the U.S.